Newcastle College University Centre has been awarded funding to launch a brand-new digital project that will help target and improve mental health awareness and support students from lower socioeconomic status backgrounds.
The Office for Students (OfS) Mental Health Funding Competition has resulted in the University Centre winning £108k to support the project, which will complement the College’s wider strategy to support student mental health across all age groups. This includes award-winning student support and counselling, as well as the roll of out mental fitness app, Fika, which helps build confidence, resilience and wellbeing.
Nicky Turnbull, Director of Higher Education at NCG commented: “Almost two-thirds (63 per cent) of students across England suggested that their mental health and wellbeing had been negatively impacted since the start of the autumn term in 2020*.
“We’ve a duty of care to do all that we can to focus on the mental wellbeing of all students and formalising our mental health provision is an essential part of our ongoing strategy. We recognise that our student demographic is broad and requires a range of support to meet a spectrum of different needs. A high proportion of our students are commuter students from low socioeconomic areas, for whom Covid-19 and the subsequent transition to online learning has brought additional challenges.”
The project will pilot the development of resources, interventions, and digital access to mental health support services across Newcastle College University Centre and five other NCG colleges. Combining extensive experience of meaningful co-production through our Student Fellows programme with Student Minds, who bring additional expertise in student engagement and mental health, students will play a key role in developing the resources that will be used.
The University Centre plans to use the funding to support its aim to embed mental health literacy into its student experience by offering a range of prevention, support, and intervention services in order to improve student mental health. The digital nature of the project is a key component and will allow students to access support online.
The funding is part of a major collaborative programme by OfS to find innovative ways to support groups of students with characteristics identified as increasing the risk of poor mental health and students who may experience barriers to accessing support due to their course, mode of study or other characteristics. The OfS awarded just over £3 million, with co-funding of more than £3.16 million from lead providers and their partners, across 18 collaborative projects which will run until September 2023.